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Reaction to F1 and its Heineken sponsorship deal

14 June 2016

Today Eurocare issued an open letter addressed to Jean Todt, the President of Federation Internationale de l’Automobile, with a Reaction to F1 and its Heineken sponsorship deal.

Heineken recently launched their new sponsorship agreements with F1, a five-year deal estimated to be worth $150 m. With this new deal, Heineken will place themselves as one of the main sponsors of the sport, with both trackside billboards, branded name of the events and other promotional activities. Alcohol brands are now dominating sponsorships in F1, linking a popular motor sport to a significant cause of avoidable physical, mental and social harm and more specifically one of the major killers on our roads, drink driving.

In the letter, which has the support of 40 public health and civil society organisations from around the world, who are also calling for an end to alcohol sponsorship in F1, Mariann Skar, Secretary General in the European Alcohol Policy Alliance, says:

“F1 should ask themselves if they want to be a motorsport or an alcohol brand event? When monitoring F1 in Monaco Grand Prix 2015, we found 11 references to alcohol brands per minute, averaging one reference every five seconds. How will it be when Heineken comes in as main sponsor in addition to the others? If both the sport and the drinks producers want to be seen as responsible industries, they should stop this deal and move away from alcohol sponsorship in F1”.

Drink driving is one of the key killer on the road alongside speeding. The United Nations’ new Sustainable Development Goals aims to halve the number of global deaths and injuries from road traffic accidents in their target 3.6.

The principles not to link alcohol brands and driving are clearly established in both the EU regulation for advertising (Audio-Visual Media Services Directive) and in the drinks industry’s own codes.

It is surprising that both F1 management and Heineken chose to interpret their sponsorship practice as something other than advertising.

We are, therefore, asking for stronger legislation, both from the European Commission and from individual Member States, who should follow France’s example of banning alcohol sponsorship of sport events.

Source: EUROCARE

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